Cleveland Browns Are Playoff-Bound For the First Time Since 2002

Courtesy of a 24-22 win over Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-22 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The NFL’s longest playoff drought has ended. On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 24-22 nailbiter to clinch their first playoff spot since the 2002 season. It was a triumphant moment for Cleveland; in his write-up of the game for ESPN, Jake Trotter mentioned “Browns fans [hanging] around FirstEnergy Stadium, taking selfies and photos of one another with the field in the background.”

The Steelers almost evened the score with 1:26 remaining in the game, with JuJu Smith-Schuster receiving a Mason Rudolph pass for a touchdown. That brought the Steelers to within 2 points, but they failed to complete the 2-point conversion. The Browns recovered the STeelers’ onside kick, and then it was over.

The Browns’ playoff run is set to begin next week, with a game against Pittsburgh as well. The last time this century the Browns were in the playoffs, their opponent was also the Steelers; in that game, Pittsburgh emerged victorious by a 36-33 score.

The end of Cleveland’s playoff drought comes as a triumph for first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, whose coaching choices have drawn praise and whose approach to the team has resulted in an outstanding season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield also helped lead the team to new heights this season.

It’s been a complex season like none before it throughout the NFL. For one team’s most dedicated fans, though, a painfully long wait is now over.

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